Page images

The lion, however, meets with a rebuff, and has to paddle back over the waters, more at his leisure. An eagle meets him, with an olive branch in one hand, and an assortment of thunderbolts in the other, that do his business effectually.

« Bright o'er his wings, and in a ground of blue,
A constellation broke on Noab's view;
He knelt with lowly reverence on the ground,
And thirteen stars were seen to sparkle round;
The lion saw the shining guard display
Their lances gleaming in the blaze of day;
Back o'er the wave he fled, that very hour,

And left the child that he would fain devour." So that this lion, after all, roared as gently as a sucking dove, or any nightingale. After advising Japhet not to flog Canáán's posterity too much, Noah winds up his prophecy and Paul's heroics.

Such is a faithful abstract of this beautiful poem. The whole theory of gravity suggested by the falling of an apple, or the discovery of our continent illustrated by cracking an egg, are nothing to the fortunate fertility of the genius, which reared such a prodigious superstructure from a sonnet on a dove.

To the Editor of the Atlantic Magazine!


My pensive public, wherefore look you sad?
I had a grandmother, she kept a donkey
To carry to the mart her crockery ware,
And when that donkey look'd me in the faee
His face was sad! and you are sad my public!

It is not so easy a thing to write an article in a periodical publication, as is generally imagined. For, to compose one which will never be read, is to spend time idly, and to win for the periodical in which it appears, an unfortunate reputation for stupidity. Now, the mere matter of writing is not so difficult; but the topic which we are to select is the rub. "And surely there can be no great dearth of subjects, methinks I hear observed. True, my friend, there lies the difficulty; there are

from which to select. If the number was more limited, less would be expected, and satisfaction be more universal. But how am I to know, whether the subject that pleases me will gratify others ? Is the man, who, fatigued with the toils of an active day's labour, at night casts his wandering eye over these pages, to be pleased with a metaphysical disquisition on a ques.

too many


tionable point of morals, just at this moment most gratifying to me? Is the mechanic, whose hurried meal divides his attention with this paper, recompensed by a merry jest, rendering me at this moment ready to die with mirth? Is the fashionable belle, whose morning hours are spent amidst millinery, visits and promenading, and who glances with eye of softened sentiment upon this page, to be melted into the tears she fondly had anticipated, by the political sketch I have more than half a mind to send

Well, then, I will write sentiment. I feel like it; the moon is gently stealing through the trees; the winds are hushed upon the dewy foliage-no, it won't do-you forget you are to be read with the utmost sang froid, amidst the daily care and bustle of the world ; and though you yourself be in the very extacy of sentiment, there are too many bank notes and bank notices circulating in the heads of your readers, ever to allow them to be wound up into your own phrenzy, in the limits of a single article, though you were to use up all the moon beams, purling rills and rustling foliage, which nature ever produced. It won't take: the public are too much men of the world ever to be thus pleased.

Now that's the point. If I could only find out the taste of the public I would prove the very prince of caterers for your magazine. But to do that, I must find out who and what is the Public. Now that is very easy to do. 66 The Public is the collected opinion of men of taste, judgment and education.".

Just as I arrived at this very important discovery, which I so much desired to make, Mr. Editor, in order to constitute myself the eternal benefactor of your paper, by furnishing articles which should always be read, and, what is more, should always please, I was disturbed by a noise in the street.

On going to the window I perceived a red-headed, thick set little hatter, in violent altercation with a stout portly-looking man, with a cane in his hand. The subject of dispute I found was a number of large boxes, piled tier on tier on the pavement, in front of the hatter's house, which the stout man, (being a police magistrate,) had ordered to be removed, to which the hatter would not assent. I tell you, sir, said the hatter, unless these boxes are allowed to remain there, I shall be ruined. I never shall be able to satisfy the large orders the Public are daily honouring me with. And I tell you, replied the magistrate, if those boxes are not removed in two hours, I shall prosecute you as the law directs ; for the Public will no longer endure having their streets thus blocked up.--I shut down the window in confusion. Here had my discovery all vanished into thin air, before the breath of a hatter and a constable.


In order to recover from my confusion, I sallied into the street, determined to walk to the Battery, and see if I could not find out, by dint of cogitation, observation, and meditation, another definition for the Public ; determined that if I could only find out this grand secret, my fortune was made for ever, and your Magazine rendered imperishable.

Whilst walking on the bridge by the fort, I overheard the following conversation, to which I eagerly listened: “If, said a gentleman, this fort was only turned into a large bath, what a benefit it would be to the Public !” “Now, I think," said his companion, “that it would be much better to turn it into a large hotel. The air is so pure, the situation so fine, that with a maitre d' hotel who understood himself, I am sure it would take amazingly with the Public.“On the contrary,” said a lady residing in the neighbourhood, “ if it were entirely demolished, the prospect would be so enchantingly improved, that the Public would resort here much more than at present.".

Alas! for me, I was at a stand again ; and despairing of ever making my discovery, I sauntered along Broadway to the City Hotel, where I 'seated myself in the bar-room ; but started in confusion, at finding placards posted all around the room, on the very subject of my investigations. “The Public are respectfully informed that the highest prize will be drawn.”_

will make his last appearance before the Public prior to his departure, &c." And last of all, “ Mr. F-informs the Public, that be executes tomb stones in the most elegant manner," &c.

• Now, in the name of all the gods at once,' said I, what is this hydra headed monster? He is an enigma-a riddle. He meets me in every walk, sticks placards at me on every corner, derides my actions, damns me at the theatre, criticises me in the reviews, and laughs at me every where. In fact the PubLic is every body, or any body; and it is as impossible to please the Public, as it was for the man with the jackass, in the fable, to adopt the opinion of every body; and therefore, I have concluded, after an elaborate investigation of the subject, that as you cannot know the whims, thoughts, knowledge, habits, or disposition, of all who may happen to look into your book, Mr. Editor, you cannot write to please all; and the only advice I can give you, is, to please yourself ; in the which case your self approbation must be your sole reward; for your numbers will not be worth a cent in the eyes of the Public.

6 Mr.


I am not among those, who hold it a duty to repel with indignation every wanton slander, which an ignorant traveller or a prejudiced scholar, on the other side of the Atlantic, may think fit to vent against this country and its free institutions. There seems to me to be often a want of dignity, in this over jealous vindication of ourselves, against charges beneath contempt; and there is danger, too, that this babit may be carried so far, as insensibly to lead us to shut our eyes against wholesome, though disagreeable truth.

But where any really respectable foreign author, who is, in other regards, entitled to our respect, errs as to our laws, history, or manners, from unintentional ignorance or from misinformation, it then becomes due to our country to correct his mistakes.

Three or four years ago, I read the Economie Politique of M. Say, in his first edition, with great pleasure; and though I profess, on some points, to follow the profounder, and (as I think,) more acute doctrines of Ricardo, in preference to his, I admired bis clear statements, perspicuous and apt illustrations, and still more the manly and generous spirit which breathes throughout the whole work. Mr. Say has since issued a new edition of his Essay, with a large addition, in which he has farther developed and defended his peculiar views. Looking over this not long ago, I was surprised to find among other passages, added since the first publication, one respecting the legislation of the government of the United States, with regard to our coinage, which is singularly erroneous.

M. Say cites a number of instances, in which the governments of different nations have wantonly, and sometimes wickedly, interfered with the natural currency, to the lasting injury of credit and commerce, and then adds :

“ The Spanish dollar is a remarkable instance of the value which may be attached to a metal by the process of coining. When the Americans of the United States resolved upon a national coinage of dollars, they contented themselves with simply restamping those of the Spanish mint, without altering their weight or standard. But the piece thus restamped would not pass at the same rate among the Chinese and other Asiatics. An hundred dollars of the United States would not purchase as much of other commodities as the same sum of Spanish dollars. The American executive nevertheless continued to deteriorate the coin, by giving it a pretty impression, apparently desiring by these means to check the exportation of specie to Asia. For this purpose, it also directed, that all exports of specie should be made only in dollars of its own coinage, hoping in this way to make exporters give a preference to the domestic productions of their own territory. Thus, after wantonly depreciating the Spanish dollar, without prejudice, it is true, to the specie current within the territory of the Union, they went on also to enjoin its use in the least profitable way; that is to say, in the commercial intercourse with those nations that valued it least. The patural course would have been, to suffer the value exported to go out of the country in that form which would offer the prospect of the largest returns; and for this, self interest might have been safely relied upon."

I fully assent to Mr. Say's theory; but his whole statement of facts is without any foundation. In the first place, it is not exactly true, that our dollar does not vary from that of the Mexican mint, in weight or standard. According to our legal standard, which, since 1795 has been regularly adhered to, our dollar is of the standard of 10 oz. 14dwts. 5 grains, of fine silver, in the pound troy; while the Spanish milled dollar is 10 oz. 15 dwts. of fine silver, and its full weight is worth a trifle (about Iths of a cent, more than ours. (See Seybert's Statistics, chap. VIII.)

So far from its being the fact that our mint is directed to restamp and re-issue the Spanish dollars, that while other silver coins, (with some exceptions,) which may be received by government, are re-coined here before they are re-issued, Spanish milled dollars have long been specially excepted by statute.

Nor has any law ever been passed by congress, or any order issued by the executive authority, prohibiting or impeding the exportation of Spanish dollars, or giving any legal preference to our own, in foreign commerce. In fact, the daily experience of banks, brokers and merchants, shows that this is not so. I have, indeed, some indistinct recollection of some resolution moved, or bill brought in to that effect, in one of the houses of congress, some years ago; but this amounted only to the opinion of an individual, and never became a law. Still less would the constitution allow the President or Treasurer to assume the power of regulating the exportation of domestic or foreign specie.

Mr. Say's excellent work, having, from its popular style and great clearness of illustration, deservedly become a text book, all over the continent of Europe, where it has been translated into most of the European languages, and having been recently translated and published in England by an eminent English economist, I cannot but feel desirous that this unjust censure of the wisdom of the financial regulations of our republic,

--which is made the more offensive to the feelings of an American, by its being coupled with the blunders and oppressions of arbitrary governments,-should be corrected in future editions. This I have no doubt Mr. Say will cheerfully do, should these remarks ever meet the eye of that liberal and enlightened economist. Vol. I. No. H. 17


« PreviousContinue »